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Sans $800M Infusion, Sydney Opera House May Close


SYDNEY'S global icon, the Opera House, is in such severe financial straits it could face permanant closure, sources claimed last night.

The cash crisis is so desperate, performers' lives are at risk from ancient stage machinery because there is no money to update it, damning internal reports reveal.

Desperate government action was needed to keep the venue operating, a senior Opera House source said.

"The nation has used and abused the Opera House since day one but very few governments have put their hand up to to contribute to overall maintenance," the source said.

"The reports clearly indicate if something radical isn't done here, the opera house will have to close."

Opera House chief executive Richard Evans has confirmed it may have to close permanently if state and federal governments do not give $800 million for a renewal project including $50 million to replace stage machinery.

A Boston Consulting Group report commissioned this year reported: "Sydney Opera House is under funding pressure if it continues with a status quo approach. Structural funding issues mean that by FY11 (financial year 2011) [it] will not be able to maintain its current level of activity."

A leaked engineering report by Marshall Day Entertech and TheatrePlan LLP shows old stage machinery urgently needs replacing because of "significant problems in respect of its operations, its reliability and its control functions".

"There is a real risk to persons on stage or being carried on the flying system from a malfunction or fault with this installation, and a similar, although lesser, potential risk when people are carried on the transport elevator," the report warned, adding there could be "multiple fatalities".

The theatre's "flying system" is said to be "non-compliant with current international codes and practice. The fault log indicates far more incidents and disruption than one would expect ," it said.

The Boston report said the Opera House had to look at ways to save money and attempt to get more out of governments.

It said there was too much middle management and "public sector redundancies" should be examined and seat prices should be increased.

In April last year Prime Minister Kevin Rudd reportedly hit the roof after The Daily Telegraph revealed former premier Nathan Rees planned a $900 million rebuild

The Daily Telegraph